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30 Mar 2018

Saraki, Oyegun absent as Buhari lauds Tinubu at 66

Senate President Bukola Saraki and the All Progressives Congress Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, were absent from the 10th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, which was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos on Thursday.

The colloquium is organised annually as part of events to mark the birthday of a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and this year’s event, which was held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, had the theme, “Investing in people.”

Other notable APC members absent were the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and the Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi.

It was not clear why all of them were absent at the event, but Oyegun is at the centre of a one year tenure elongation granted to the executive of the party at all levels, which Tinubu had openly opposed.

On Tuesday, during the 5th National Executive Council meeting of the APC in Abuja, President Buhari also faulted the decision of the party’s NEC to grant one year extension to the party executive, citing a breach of relevant sections of the party’s constitution, as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), as the basis for his opinion.

The President therefore asked the party’s NEC to rescind its earlier decision so as not to give the opposition the grounds on which to reap from the crisis which is likely to result from the constitutional breaches.

Tinubu had hailed Buhari’s stance on the matter.

We’ll replace corruption with correctness – Buhari

At the event, President Buhari said he was happy to celebrate the birthday of his friend and political partner, Tinubu.

“Asiwaju is widely known as a political strategist. I have come to see him as a man who cares about people and who is a fountain of ideas for the economy of the common man and woman. He is a true humanitarian and we appreciate his contribution to Nigeria’s and Africa’s progress,” he said.

The President said his administration was working for the betterment of Nigerians, adding, “We seek to replace corruption with correctness, insecurity with safety and poverty with prosperity.

“We seek to rebuild what has been wrongfully constructed and to plant a firm foundation for progress. Our goal is to bring together every section of the nation and every Nigerian of every creed, every region and ethnic group in mutually beneficial, protective, social, economic and political relationship.”

Stressing the need to invest in the people, he said, “I can say that the expenditures made by this government constitute investment in and for the people. We depend on the people to govern. This government recognises this; hence, our investment in critical areas that touch the lives of people directly.”

The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, recollected that when the APC began the journey in 2014, it was determined to change the dominant narrative about the country.

Osinbajo said, “We were determined to ensure that the notion of a country rich in natural resources, but even richer in human capital but being destroyed daily by grand corruption and the impunity in the looting of public resources was corrected. We saw a nation where a few in offices had so privatised the commonwealth that while oil prices were at their highest and we were getting growth figures as high as seven per cent, the majority of the people remained extremely poor.”

Describing corruption as an existential problem for Nigeria, the Vice-President said, “From all I have seen in government in the past three years, the corruption of the previous five years is what destroyed the Nigerian economy. Every time we talk about corruption, our opponents say, ‘don’t talk about it; just do your own.’ We will talk about it.

“The reason why we will talk about it is because, first, we must let our people know that we cannot afford to go this way again.

“The second is that we as a party and your government must show the difference between us and the party and government that impoverished our nation. Let me give you an example: In 2014 when oil was between $100 and $114 a barrel, the actual release for capital for three ministries – power, works and housing – was N99bn, while transport got N14bn and agriculture got N15bn.

“Let’s compare that to capital releases to the same ministries in 2017 when oil prices were between $50 and $60 a barrel – N415bn for power, works and housing; N80bn for transport; N65bn for agriculture. What is the reason why this is possible? It is possible because if you do not steal the resources of the people, you will spend them on the right things.

“There is no country in the world that will allow its resources to be plundered in a way our own resources are plundered and expect to be economically viable. $3bn was lost to something called the strategic alliance contracts in NNPC; people simply took the oil and never paid back.”

PDP’ll not come back, says Tinubu

Tinubu, in his address, said Nigerians had seen the last of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

According to him, the PDP, which ruled the country for 16 years, between 1999 and 2015, has had its last shot at power and will never come back.

The former governor of Lagos State advised Nigerians to focus on the APC, which, according to him, was clearly different from the former ruling party.

He urged Nigerians not to accept the apology tendered by the PDP, because, according to him, the former ruling party “lied, they falsified, they changed figures for 16 years, they made fake promises, gave us fake figures.”

He insisted that the APC would never stop talking about the corruption perpetrated under the PDP administrations, because the APC had a duty to report to Nigerians what they found in office after taking over.

Tinubu also took a swipe at “somebody who is writing letter these days, a letter of politics, as if they’ve never been there before. Bad belle letters.”

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had written an open letter to President Buhari in January, advising him not to seek re-election in 2019.

Tinubu pointed out that the APC was trying its best to salvage the country, stressing that Nigerians should be patient with the party as “we didn’t form a political party showing our logo as honey and sugar.”

He said he was happy that Buhari had rescued the ship of the country which was headed for a crash.

In his address, the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, described the theme of the colloquium as germane, saying, “At the end of the day, the level of investment in our people will determine our future sustenance.”

Lauding Tinubu, Ambode said, “There are only a few people that can match his (Tinubu) unquestionable thirst to invest in people.”

Also in attendance were a former interim National Chairman of the APC, Bisi Akande, state governors elected on the APC platform, lawmakers, other members of the ruling party, traditional rulers and businessmen.

The governors included Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State; Abdufatah Ahmed of Kwara State; Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State; Godwin Obaseki of Edo State; Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.

The event was also graced by the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote; Zenith Bank founder, Jim Ovia; and businessman, Oba Otudeko.

Also in attendance were a former governor of Lagos and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; and his counterparts in the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology, Rotimi Amaechi; Chris Ngige, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; Deputy National Chairman of the APC, Segun Oni; and the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.

Stop playing god – PDP

Meanwhile, the PDP has asked Tinubu to stop playing god, saying Nigerians have the faculty and freedom to determine the leadership that best suits their desires without anyone’s control.

The party also advised Tinubu not to allow himself to be used a second time as he was still to blame for the enthronement of Buhari’s administration, which, it said, had brought the nation to its knees in three years.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said Tinubu’s speech, at his colloquium, rather than damaging the reputation of the PDP, ended up amplifying an admittance of the failure of President Buhari and the APC administration.

He said, “It was a direct admittance of failure and indictment on President Buhari’s administration when Asiwaju pointedly told the President that the ship of the nation, under his (Buhari’s) watch, still needs to be rescued, almost three years down the line.

“More pathetic is the fact that the APC leader presented the PDP programmes as if he was introducing novel ideas in the economy. This clearly stood with our position that the APC government is incompetent.”

In the same vein, the PDP admonished Osinbajo to stop diminishing his office and person by joining in the bandying of unverified figures and making unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against the PDP.

The PDP challenged the Vice-President to name any corrupt individual in the rebranded and repositioned PDP or show any proof that the PDP, as a party, had ever been charged, indicted or convicted of any act of corruption.

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